If you’re an insurance agent and haven’t been living under a rock for the past 6 months, I’m confident you’ve heard about Google Compare- the online portal for consumers to shop for auto insurance. It’s been operating across the ocean for a while, and was just introduced to the U.S. last year.
So when the announcement came recently that Google Compare was closing up shop, to say I was happy was an understatement. But let the announcement also serve as a warning.
Now is not the time to sit back and enjoy the ride.
We Still Have Work to Do.
Because I promise you my friends, just because this venture failed does not mean the next one will. Do you honestly think there isn’t another entrepreneurial spirit out there that isn’t working day and night to create a model that works?
We can’t be naive. And we can’t afford to become fat cats. Yes, take a moment and cheer to the rooftops for this victory.
Moment over 😉
Don’t you dare take it easy. Don’t you dare ease up. You must continue to bring something extra to the table so when someone DOES find the magic formula, you aren’t left in the dust. You need to create that sometimes elusive creature, VALUE.
How to Create Value in a Google world
Many insurance industry folks preach bring value and they are absolutely right. Here’s how you accomplish that.
Develop a clear brand and communicate that brand to your customers and prospects
If people don’t know what you stand for and how that can help them in the process of researching and eventually purchasing insurance, then you’ve already lost. You MUST be different than the guy down the street. You MUST show how your differences translate into WINS for your marketplace.
And here’s a bonus tip: when you have a clear brand, all your messaging becomes so much easier. From social media, your website and even printed material, you have a unifying message that can be replicated and built upon so people can identify who YOU are and how what you do solves their problems and makes their life easier.
And you’re not the guy down the street, or the direct writer or the 8 million other insurance folks out there. You’re you. And that’s the defining difference.
Here’s a few of my articles discussing personal branding and agency branding. Take them for a spin.
Get involved with Social Media- participation is no longer an option
If your primary market is personal lines, then you need a presence online. Period. Even if your focus is commercial lines, I’ll still argue that an online presence is valuable (in the video section below).
But here’s the thing: some insurance agency owners should NOT be the voice of the agency’s social media. Maybe they’re quiet, have lost touch with customers, or have no personality. I’ve seen all of these and I cringe every time. If that’s you, do yourself a favor and find someone else in your agency that would be a better choice. Because at the end of the day, if you suck as a person, you’ll really suck online. And it will be amplified 100 fold.
And I know I’ll get grief, but another option is to outsource your social media. Now, before you throw tomatoes, let me qualify: if you go this route, there are GOOD and there are BAD companies that can do this for you. I’ve experienced both. Your mission is to find a company that works WITH you to accomplish your social media goals (and yes, you need to have them). They need to understand your brand and be able to consistently reinforce that brand through content. This is a true partnership and when executed this way, works brilliantly.
Full disclosure: I just recently went the outsourcing route via Robyn Sharp of Mega Agency Marketing. She is a joy to work with and took the time to understand the goals I wanted to achieve, and creates content based on those goals. She has captured the personality and brand of my agency to a “T” which is reflected in the family/community oriented posts and pictures, as well as fun memes and other graphics. I would wager a guess that no one has realized I’m not the one physically creating and posting the content on our Facebook page, as well as a few other platforms.
Why did I go this route? Because Robyn can do in an hour what it takes me 5-6 hours to do throughout the month. And that doesn’t include the time I spend writing blog posts (minimum 2 hours). That’s time I could be spending with my husband and kids. And she does it as well, if not better than I can. That lets me focus on the things only I can do, such as blogging, running the agency and writing the occasional insurance policy 😉
Embrace Video- because your marketplace craves it
I’ve always shied away from video, because A) I don’t like being on camera and B) didn’t want to go back to school to get a degree in videography.
But thankfully, due to a recent insurance conference, I was introduced to Animoto, a very easy to use software that can create amazing videos, without needing technical know-how. Here was my answer to my video problem.
So when I returned from the conference, it was on. I have been on a video creating extravaganza ever since. And let me share a big secret with you- I nearly passed out shooting my first video. I was sweating and had cold, clammy hands. But I did it. And so can you. Here’s some examples of videos I’ve created recently:
- Why Choose Us– emphasizes our focus on families and communities, with plenty of staff & family photos and photos of community events we participate in.
- 2016 Referral Program– my daughter and I having fun talking about our referral program, with some props thrown in for good measure. We laughed so hard during shooting, especially when we flubbed the lines.
- “Insurance in 1 Minute or Less video series”- short & simple videos answering common insurance questions. Video 1- Comprehensive vs. collision; Video 2- Flood on an auto and home insurance policies.
Will these videos ever win an Academy Award? Nope. Will I suddenly get a call from Hollywood demanding that I come audition? Nope. Will they reinforce our branding of being local, helpful and personable and make us more easy to find online? YEP. And that’s all that matters. These are all examples of How to Create Value in a Google world.
And for you commercial lines folks here’s a million dollar idea- ask your commercial clients if you can shoot a video of their business and you’ll provide it to them free of charge to be used in whatever way they choose. Or if you’re out prospecting, shoot a video of a business you’d like to insure and provide it to them, no strings attached. Bet you get a nice tour of the business and a pleasant conversation with the owner. That just happened to me. Because what business owner DOESN’T love to talk about his or her business?
Create a memorable customer experience
There are a million things you can do here, but the moral of the story is: Create a customer experience so powerful that your customers can’t hold back from sharing with their friends & family. Here’s a list of ideas:
- Call people by name.
- Note anniversary dates in your management system and send out a card (could be electronic or traditional).
- Note kids names in your management system, so you can ask in casual conversation how the kids are doing.
- Note other life events such as birth of a baby or wedding, and send a small gift.
- Create a welcome kit (either paper or digital) introducing people to your agency, staff, expectations, and any marketing messages you want to communicate.
- Provide a free newsletter that actually has valuable information, and one who’s main message isn’t “BUY FROM ME!”
- Involve your customers in the planning and marketing of your special events. That could include having them do a promo video.
Here’s an article I wrote for GROW if you want to take a deeper dive- Forget Customer Service- Create Customer Experience Instead. And here’s a quick read: Warning: Creating a Positive Customer Experience Can Help Your Business.
If we don’t want to be blindsided by the next “interruption” to the insurance industry, we’ve got work to do. And there’s never been a better time than now. Are you with me?